Since 2014, a new trend has come in to the sphere. A lot of Indian youth are showing their interest towards international political issues, which was not visible in the last few decades. Due to globalisation, the world has come closer, and nothing is hidden from the people. With the blink of an eye, anyone can know what is happening on the other side of the world.
Today, the state’s foreign policy is one of the larger concerns to general public than ever in the past. What is the motivation? Why should the Indian youth pay attention to world affairs? How do they benefit?
As Jawahar Lal Nehru once said, “When some petty matter divides us and we have difficulties and conflicts amongst us over these small matters, let us remember not only the great responsibility that we shoulder, the responsibility of the freedom of people of India, the responsibility of a large part of Asia, the responsibility of being some kind of guide to vast numbers of people all over the world. India is an old nation and yet today she has within her something of the spirit and dynamic quality of youth.
After decades of struggle, India’s foreign policy finally appears to have turn out to be one of the key concerns of the Government at the Centre. Since in the globalised world that we live in, it has become gradually more important that India develops its foreign policy and keeping in mind its goals in the world order. To sum up, Prime Minister Modi’s foreign policy and plan to toughen India’s influence globally is based on three important pillars- the growing economy, Make in India and most importantly youth.
Due to the recent surge in youth to learn more about world affairs, and opening up of new courses on International Relations in reputed universities, India is witnessing a drastic change in the attitudes of youth. Arab Spring, which was the first social media revolution, was widely discussed amongst the Indian youth. World affairs are not fixed and keeps evolving, which has led curiosity amongst the youth to deeply explore this new field of knowledge.
The youth symbolise the most vibrant and energetic section of the population. India is one of the countries having a highest percentage of youth, with about 65 percent of the population being under 35 years of age and 40 percent of the population is below 20 years of age. While most of the developed countries face the peril of an ageing workforce, India is anticipated to have a very constructive one.
India, with the world’s largest youth population, could preferably be at the top spot for discussing youth issues in any multilateral forum. Over the years, India has organised bilateral youth exchange programmes with the U.S, China and Russia. Recently, India has also engaged with South Korea, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and ASEAN among others.
India had sent its first official youth delegate to the 55th UN General Assembly in 2000. This appeared as a bold step and marked a huge shift towards youth diplomacy. However, since then India has not sent any official youth delegate to represent the Indian youth in UNGA. The government should work on this and send a delegate in the near future.
Since 2014, there has been a sharp increase in the growth of foreign policy/strategic affairs think tanks in India, which is remarkable. While they have maintained their standards and have performed cutting edge research, they are still lacking the vision of training youths to make them as future foreign policy change makers. They should give space to youth and recruit as many as possible interns from under-graduate and post-graduate courses and not just only research scholars so that the young students can polish their ideas from the early stage of their career.
In 2017, Ministry of External Affairs stepped up to reach the youth by launching a new programme SAMEEP, which aims to take Indian foreign policy and its global engagements to students in smaller town and cities across the country. The idea is not just only to get the ordinary student take an interest in India’s place in the global ambition, but also to look at diplomacy as career option.
In today’s world, foreign policy is not only about policy, but also about communication and projection. Youthful energies need to be tied and leveraged in the right direction. Youth can make their presence felt with their innovation and creativities. Youth should now be more proactive and drive the process of development and raise India’s global profile.
As sketched above, it shows how and why it is essential for youth to have abundant awareness in world affairs, and to become global citizens who are deeply rooted in India and at the same time passionately are aware of world affairs, and understand how global and regional issues affect their own lives.